As my readers, you might want to know what my ideal vision for the future is. So I'm going to tell you. I've actually drawn some pretty decent pictures of this in my diaries, but finding them would involve looking, which would involve effort. So I'm going to make a very messy version on Paint. Trust me, I'm awful at Paint.
Dear J.K. Rowling,
I'm writing you a letter that I know you will never ever read, because I have a blog and blog readers like things like this.. I picked you as my letter recipient for the obvious reason, this being that you're my top writing idol. I'm a novelist, like you, and I write middle grade and young adult fantasy and science fiction. I consider your Harry Potter series to be the ultimate work of children's fantasy, and so I work every day to reach your level, though I know I'll never make it there.
I got into Harry Potter in about fourth grade. I'd been avoiding it up until then because I have this issue called BOOK SNOBBERY. Well, hopefully, I don't have it anymore. It was over summer, probably 2003 or so, and my cousins on my dad's side were having a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone one-year-release party or something like that. I kind of got roped into watching the movie... and I fell in love.
(My apologies for falling for the movie before the book.)
Of course, once I read the books that were out at that point, I fell harder. Pretty quickly, I was going to midnight releases, movie premieres, and Harry Potter parties. I freaked out over trailers and was addicted to MuggleNet. Harry Potter is just powerful like that. Through it, I learned literary analysis, book theories, and most of all, ~shipping~ character romances, all things that have driven my writing and reading since.
I was already trying to write novels when I read Harry Potter, but it inspired me through the years to continue my work in fantasy. There's nary a thing I don't admire with your skill. You know how to world-build incredibly. Children and adults everywhere feel they could live in the world of Hogwarts every time they read your series. I want to live there, or, at least, to know more about it. And I could, because you know everything, even the stuff you haven't written about. I can't think of a single other author with that skill.
Writing takes work. Some of being a successful writer is talent; more is disposition (i.e., a stubborn will). Luck factors in, but I haven't figured that part out yet, obviously. However, right on top of all that is practice. There are so many areas in novel writing to master. Some people have a natural ability in some of skill areas, but generally, you need to find a way to develop your skills yourself so you can become a truly great writer. How do you do that?
Sometimes, this can be tedious. But if you really love writing, practicing your skills can also be a lot of fun. So write, write, write. Write all kinds of writing. Write every day. JUST WRITE.
Of course, there's more to it than that. You have to focus on uncovering the parts of writing where you need to improve. So here's my three-step look at how to do that.
1) Pinpoint the different parts of writing through the works of your favorite authors. What it is about their writing that you like so much? Most likely, they have a specialty area or two where their skill shines through. Find those. Recognize them. Use them.
Maybe someday, some fan of mine will want to know my taste in fashion, and I can direct them to this post. I mean, I like certain kinds of clothes. I like to watch What Not to Wear, although that's more for the psychology. More than anything, I'm a makeup girl. Maybe I'll do a post on that sometime. Clothes, I'm not as into. Hair, I have no clue about whatsoever.
Still, for those of you curious about my taste, here are the pieces I like to use in my wardrobe:
I really like plaid. I feel like it reflects me pretty well--some craziness, some color, but also comfortable, casual organization. Plaid shirts make me feel safe too, maybe because they originated in male fashion and make me feel like I'm wearing my nonexistent boyfriend's shirt.
Some plaid shirts are simple, others are really pretty, a effeminate version of the masculine style. Most of my plaid shirts come in purple variants, because I'm a blue/purple/black girl. Bright colors make people look at me. I don't like that very much. But if you're a bright girl, kudos to you! So much kudos. Seriously.
Only under a long shirt or dress, you understand. Wearing them as pants is a faux pas, which I committed all the way up until sixth grade. If you're a little kid, it's okay, but if you're an adult, not so much.
In the kind of outfit I suggest, this is a bit of nice layering that I think works well. Also, it's warm and comfy. I usually go with black. Black is nice and standard. But you can go unique if you'd like!
I love boots. Not random furry brown messes like Uggs, you understand. I like plain, simple black boots. They go with everything, and they're so comfortable.
I also like Converse. I have a black pair, a blue pair, and a black pair with hearts, and I'd love to try more in different colors and patterns. With boots, I try to stay simple and relatively feminine. Sandals are nice too. I prefer summer clothes over winter any day. Short sleeves, shorts, and sandals!
I've seen this idea around a lot, so I'm gonna try it. Let's see if I can list 25 things about me I haven't already told you on this blog. I feel like this is going to be difficult, given how uninhibited I am about talking about myself on here, but maybe it'll turn out fun!
1) I don't like baby carrots but I do like the big garden ones and even carrot sticks if I'm feeling the mood. I just don't get along with the baby form. They're too... fake and little.
2) I plan to adopt instead of having my own kids once I get married, mostly because of my situation with the fibromyalgia, but also because it's a good thing to do, though quite difficult.
3) I suffer from a condition called body dysmorphic disorder. My case has become mild enough, with the help of antidepressants and a lot of effort, that I can almost say I'm over it. I've had it since about fifth grade, and mine centers on my face, my skin, mostly.
4) I used to think I could actually read minds. I mostly just have a lot of empathy, which can get overwhelming sometimes. I think that's why I like social media so much--it's a controllable amount of information.
5) When I was in fourth grade, I had a phobia of bees. It all started at a Girl Scouts camp with an Attack of the Killer Bees. I struggled for nearly five months after that from a severe case of melissophobia, to which I hope to never ever return, because no one should ever have to live in that state of constant panic. Ever.
6) I'm basically addicted to carbs. It's actually a symptom of fibromyalgia, but I didn't know that until after I got diagnosed. Before that, I spent years eating a pint or more of ice cream every day after school to reduce my headache.
The thing about writing novels is that for every idea, there's going to be stuff you don't know about. Especially if you're a sheltered introvert like me. So you have to research to make sure you don't look like a total mess in your own novel. Some writers spend hours and days and months researching, mostly because they decide to write about something complicated and research-heavy, as in historical fiction, or a medical issue, or a story that revolves around a setting that they've never been to.
I'm not that into researching, personally.
I mean, I already spent weeks writing this novel, and it's going to be years of editing plus over a year at least to get it actually published, and taking up extra time researching just does not appeal to me. I'm not that good at it either because it involves a lot of detailed thinking, and I am not a detail person.
Luckily for me, my ideas haven't required a plethora of research because I like to choose things that are not historical fiction, not setting-based, and not mainly focused on concepts that I'm unfamiliar with. For example, many people would have had to do a ton of research for #FibromyalgiaStory. But I have fibromyalgia, and I'm basically a walking encyclopedia on it at this point, so not a lot of research was required.
Of course, I do still research for my novels on a smaller scale, and a lot of the time, I actually enjoy it. Recently, when I was writing #AfterworldStory for NaNoWriMo 2012, I experienced a good bit of this. Most people don't really have the time to research or edit during NaNo. But I was able to go out and do some very basic research while I was writing to expand the richness of my work.
For your amusement, here's a partial list of things that I've researched for my past novels.
Why I Hate James Pat...
The Lesser Evil: Femi...
PTSD and The Hunge...
Guest Post: 5 Fandom...
My Mayo Clinic Experi...